I’m Ready for my Close Up Mr. DeMille

The University of Louisiana has long encouraged faculty to consider distance learning as part of their overall portfolio of course offerings, but there really hasn’t been much of a push, nor much of a plan — so far as I could tell — to really make it happen. With the hiring of a director for distance learning efforts, I am guessing it might be moving forward on that collection of burners that represent any large organization.

That’s good news. [As I noted yesterday](http://johnlaudun.org/20100212-hacking-education/), universities, especially hybrid universities like UL-Lafayette, are going to have to re-establish for themselves and for the public what it is they do and how they go about doing it.

So here’s a seemingly trivial dimension that I think will play a much more significant role than many of us imagine: *production values.* Too many on-line offerings from universities are videos of professors lecturing in a classroom. I am currently enjoying a course on developing apps for the iPhone — gearing up for thinking about the iPad don’t you know. The course is on iTunes University and it’s from Stanford with faculty and guests from Apple. All they did was stick some cameras in a classroom, give the folks up front wireless microphones — which they sometimes have to pass back and forth — and turned them loose.

It’s a great start, but with only a little more effort, we might have something really stunning:

It wouldn’t take much to pull this off: you paint a wall of a classroom white, or black — or even green for cool keyed effects, and then you could work with a professor and a camera. Anything worth a close up, the producer could note as worth coming back to and have the faculty member repeat what they said for a cut to the close-up. With a little practice over a few iterations, I imagine it would become a pretty straightforward affair of when to zoom out to leave room for visuals to appear beside the presenter and when to zoom in.

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